Looking after seafarers’ wellbeing over the festive season should be a priority, says Hanseaticsoft
With the festive season approaching the wellbeing of seafarers is something shipping companies should prioritise as it can be a very challenging time for those who are away from family and friends over Christmas, says Alexander Buchmann, Managing Director of Hanseaticsoft GmbH.
According to UK based mental health charity, Mind over a quarter of people (26%) would not feel able to ask for help at Christmas if they were struggling emotionally and one in ten people consider taking their own life because of the festive period. Other research by the Sailors’ Society and Yale University highlighted that more than a quarter of seafarers suffer from depression – and many won’t ask for help.
Alexander Buchmann says one way that shipping companies can improve wellbeing on board is to provide personal internet access for seafarers. He says, “Christmas can be a difficult time for seafarers who are working, exacerbating feelings of loneliness and depression. It’s often a normal working day at sea and for those with children it can be tough not seeing them open their presents.
“Providing personal internet access for all crew so they can keep in touch with family is something that can easily be done since more shipping companies now have access to the internet. Being able to email, phone or use video calling apps such as Facetime can make a big difference to crew over the Christmas period.
“Having internet access can also mean crew are able to use apps to access mental health support or other groups and organisations that could help with a range of issues. Personal internet access should be a priority for those not already offering it, as it can help improve health and wellbeing at what can be a really difficult time of year.”
Futurenautics Maritime’s Crew Connectivity 2018 survey of over 6,000 seafarers, found 75% now use the Internet at sea – an increase of 32% or over half a million more crew since 2015.
A survey by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) highlighted that 60% of respondents said that the provision of internet access to seafarers for personal use may have improved the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers and 69% believe it is good for morale.
Another way for shipping companies to improve wellbeing is to ensure crew are getting enough rest and stick to legal limits on how many hours they can work. Hanseaticsoft is helping companies do this with their Rest Hours Module, part of their Cloud Crewing software solution, designed to help prevent tiredness and improve the health and wellbeing of seafarers.
The Rest Hours module digitalises and centralises the process via cloud technology. It allows crews to enter their own rest hours rather than relying on someone else to collect and enter the data. This means they can access their own data and ensure the correct times have been entered.
Alexander Buchmann adds, “Looking after the wellbeing of seafarers should be on the agenda all year round, not just at Christmas. Working on a ship can be tough job but offering connectivity onboard can help combat loneliness and could provide a point of difference that could also help with recruitment and retention.
“With internet access shipping companies can also use cloud solutions to steamline onboard processes, allowing them to connect on and offshore teams and collaborate on every aspect of crew management and administration. This includes the Rest Hours module which is improving the wellbeing of seafarers, ensuring decent working conditions and preventing fatigue on ships.”